Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Army Retires Carrier Pigeons

Published 7 April, 2008
Spain News

The Army bade farewell to its last carrier pigeons last week when the five members of the Army’s now defunct Carrier Pigeon Section released 300 birds, who promptly returned to their lofts on the army base at Pozuelo de Alarcon on the outskirts of Madrid. They were delivered the next day to the Spanish Pigeon-Fancier Federation. The Spanish Army started using carrier pigeons in 1879 and they played an important role in JaĆ©n during the Civil War. Two hundred Guardia Civil who had joined Franco were holed up with 1,200 people in the Sanctuaury of the Virgen de la Cabeza and survived a 256-day siege by Republican forces thanks to the pigeons who were used to send information about needed food supplies to the Military Government in Government. One bird, No. 46.415, was wounded by a bullet but managed to get her message through before dying. She received a posthumous award for bravery and her corpse still reposes, somewhat desiccated, in the Army Museum.

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